Over 100 scientists call for ‘vaccine plus’ COVID-19 strategy

key takeaways

  • More than 100 scientists have signed an open letter asking the WHO to adopt strategies other than vaccines to fight COVID-19.
  • The global strategy includes acknowledging airborne transmission of the virus, promoting the use of high-quality masks, effective ventilation, establishing consistent safety measures, and providing support for global vaccine equity
  • Vaccines alone won’t save us from pandemic, experts warn

More than 100 public health experts, clinicians and scientists have signed an open letter urgently calling on the World Health Organization (WHO) to adopt a so-called “vaccine+” strategy in the fight against COVID-19. This strategy combines vaccination, public health measures and financial support.

This letter was published in british medical journal It was noted last week that while vaccines greatly reduce the risk of serious illness and death, they are insufficient to combat rapidly mutating viruses. For example, Omicron is more likely to infect those who have been vaccinated or have been exposed to previous COVID-19 variants than earlier variants. The result is an unchecked spread of COVID-19, leading to more lockdowns, further education disruptions and additional economic hits.

What exactly does the Vaccine Plus program look like? According to the authors, there are five main recommendations. Here we highlight each one.

Calling COVID-19 an airborne pathogen

Since July 2020, scientists have begun urging the WHO to consider COVID-19 an airborne virus. While the WHO has since clarified that airborne and droplet transmission between close contacts can transmit COVID-19, in some countries this message remains vague.

Is COVID-19 Airborne?Scientists urge WHO to update guidelines

“Public health authorities in Sweden still claim that COVID is only spread through short-range droplets,” one of the signatories, Emil J. Bergholtz, a professor of theoretical physics at Stockholm University, told VigorTip. They have repeatedly claimed that masks may even increase the spread of disease.”

Promote the use of high-quality masks

While the benefits of wearing a mask to prevent COVID-19 are well recognized, the authors say there is confusion about when people need to wear a mask and which is best. Additionally, changing public health messages have led to resistance to wearing masks.

“Have this idea [in the U.K.] Even simple measures, such as wearing masks, are restrictive,” Deepti Gurdasani, an epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London, told VigorTip. “We were told that masks were ineffective when they were already worn in much of Southeast Asia. ”

To provide clear guidance, the signatories recommend that WHO explicitly advocates the use of masks in indoor gatherings and other high-transmission settings. Preferred options should include respirators such as N95, P2/FFP2 or KF94.

Advice on effective ventilation

Opening windows is good for air circulation, but not enough. While the team behind the letter did not offer many meaningful ways to “ensure that all public buildings are optimally designed, constructed, retrofitted and utilized in accordance with their requirements to maximize clean air for occupants,” they cite Several studies have shown that proper air filtration can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by as much as 37%.

Establish criteria for implementing (or relaxing) measures to curb the spread of COVID

Depending on the level of COVID transmission in a particular community, specific safety protocols should be developed. But right now, there are no specific or consistent rules on when security measures, such as lockdowns, should be in place or lifted.

Gurdasani added that while methods such as contact tracing, isolation and isolation are invaluable in containing the spread of COVID-19, they are not realistic if people do not support them.

“We have the COVID app in the UK but usage is very, very low and the public information around it is very, very bad,” she said. “Being ‘pinged’ or quarantined is considered an inconvenience when it’s actually a very important public health measure to control transmission.”

In the summer of 2021, with most major restrictions lifted, the word “epidemic” began to catch on in the UK.It refers to the annoyance of being told to self-isolate by the UK’s COVID-19 app

Also, people won’t be willing to quarantine if they can’t afford it.

Several countries have done well in providing financial support during isolation or quarantine. In Portugal, if you have only been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you are entitled to full pay for 14 days. In the Czech Republic, employees are entitled to 60% of their income for 14 days if they have to quarantine (after which the sickness insurance benefits come into effect).

  • Isolation is what you do when you are only in contact (close contact) with someone who has COVID.
  • Quarantine is what you do when you are diagnosed with COVID,

Support measures to achieve global vaccine equity

While the letter’s authors call for a moratorium on vaccine patents and the creation of regional vaccine production centers, one issue with vaccine equity is the fragility of the vaccine itself.

For example, Pfizer’s vaccine initially needs to be stored in refrigerators at temperatures around minus 70 degrees Celsius, which can be difficult in low-income countries. However, since the authorization, the company has submitted data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showing that its vaccine can be stored at 2 degrees Celsius to 8 degrees Celsius (the temperature of a standard refrigerator) for up to a month.

“Transporting and distributing vaccines that require very deep frozen storage is complex, and this infrastructure requires a lot of support,” explained Gurdasani. “It’s not as simple as donating X doses because it doesn’t solve the underlying problem. [distribution] question. ”

what does this mean to you

Unfortunately, a vaccine alone will not save the world from this pandemic. The panel’s proposals will provide us with short- and long-term solutions to ensure that health services are not overwhelmed and that the most vulnerable members of society are not the most affected.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means that you may have updated information as you read this article.For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page,